INDIANAPOLIS —We've got the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts matching up on Sunday in their 2017 Week 4 showdown at CenturyLink Field.
With an inside scoop on the opposition heading into the game, we check in with John Boyle, a digital media reporter for the Seattle Seahawks and their website, Seahawks.com (follow John on Twitter @johnpboyle):
Walker:It's Colts and Seahawks Sunday night in Seattle, and surprisingly it's a battle of two 1-2 teams. The Seahawks are coming off a 33-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Nashville. John, if you could pinpoint one thing, what's been the Seahawks' achilles heel so far this season? Is it the inconsistent offense?
Boyle: **"I would say inconsistencies overall. For the first two games it was the offense, just couldn't quite get it going consistently — you know, they did enough against the 49ers to get a win. But then the defense is kind of in that consistency conversation, as well, after last week. They looked just dominant to start that game — forced four straight three and outs — and then really allowed Tennessee to get some big plays in the second half that was their undoing. So they've seen enough good things on both sides of the ball that Pete Carroll still feels really good about this team, but they just haven't quite been able to put it together for four quarters in any of their games."
Walker:But off of that, we all know the Seahawks really pride themselves on playing tough defense, which has obviously been their hallmark for several years running now. I mean, the Titans have a really good offense, but I look and see Seattle is doing really well so far against the pass, ranking in the Top 10 in the NFL, but that run defense: 146 rushing yards allowed per game, ranking 30th. Have they been able to pinpoint why that's been such a struggle so far this season?
Boyle:"You know, it's weird because at long stretches, it's looked really good. But they keep giving up big (plays) — I think they had a 61-yarder against the 49ers; they gave up a 75-yard touchdown last week to DeMarco Murray. And obviously those count in the stats — you can't just discount them — but they've gone long stretches of being pretty dominant, so it's just cleaning up the mistakes on those big plays. Pete Carroll kind of sarcastically said it was a unique breakdown on each of the four big long runs they've given up the last two weeks, so it's not a really easy thing to fix, but they've done enough — you know, the Titans only had 1.8 rushing yards per carry in the first half of that game — so they still feel like they can be the team that led the league in rushing yards per carry allowed last season; they just need to clean up those big plays."
Walker:OK, I'm not going to just sit here and rag on the Seahawks all day, because you look up and down their roster and their coaches and their depth chart, and you just know they're going to get it together at some point, probably sooner than later. Now, the Colts are coming off their first win and Jacoby Brissett has certainly looked the part at quarterback holding down the fort until Andrew Luck is able to get back, but what do you think will be a key to watch for the Seahawks on Sunday night against the Colts?
Boyle:"I think it's partly what we just talked about: the consistency getting going. For the offense, maybe it's getting going earlier, and the defense, it's just not giving up those big plays. You know, those have been killers the last couple games — especially last week. I think the the offense can build off its second half — they scored four touchdowns in just over two quarters last week after having one touchdown their first two games, so if they can protect Russell Wilson a little better, get some run game going … they don't need to be dominant on offense, just be better (and) do it for four quarters, then I think the Seahawks have a real good shot at home."
Walker:Chuck Pagano on Wednesday mentioned over and over just how special Russell Wilson is, both in and out of the pocket; that he's just going to escape and make his plays week in and week out. I know there's been some offensive line issues that haven't helped matters, but what is it about this guy that allows him to be the playmaker that he is?
Boyle:"I mean, I could go on for quite a while, but one of the things is just how good he is at making things happen when the play doesn't go well. There's a fourth down play last week where he was getting drug down and he was falling over and threw it straight to Tyler Lockett 10 yards down the field for a first down. He's just so good on the move, so good at improvising. But then I think what sometimes gets overlooked is the pocket passer he's become, as well. I mean, you go back to two seasons ago, he led the NFL in passer rating. So he's just very dynamic at what he can do in a lot of different aspects. And it's funny: he's been a *little *off in the last couple games at times — he missed a few throws early — but then he was just on fire down the stretch and ended up with three touchdowns. I think he's kind of maybe hitting his stride, and you mentioned the protection, if that can hold up — they've seen some encouraging things out of that group, and if that holds up, I think Russell Wilson's due for a pretty good stretch of games here."
Walker:And, finally, I'm sure this is a cliché topic for you by now, but when you play in Seattle, particularly at night in primetime, you expect a pretty darn good crowd there at CenturyLink Field. I know you're probably stuck in the press box for the games, but what is it about that place, the fans, the atmosphere that's so special — and difficult for the opposing offenses?
Boyle:"I mean, it is special. You mention it's kind of cliché — you hear about it being here — but it's cliché because it's true. The stadium is uniquely loud — having that overhanging roof helps with that, just kind of the acoustics of the building — and I think there's just kind of something about the fans here, as well, that they're really into their football. And University of Washington is known for really loud crowds, as well. So, the night game helps; they have an incredible record in primetime under Pete Carroll. I think it maybe it helps giving the fans a few more hours to hydrate, if you will. And, yeah, it's a tough place to play. We just got off the phone with Chuck Pagano for his conference call, and he mentioned that, that this is a young team that almost none of the guys on this roster have been out here, so it's tough to replicate. Frank Gore maybe can give some advice — he's played a lot of games out here; he's played very well against the Seahawks in his career, so I'm sure he might be a guy the offense leans on for words of wisdom. But to a degree, there's really no preparing for it. You sort of have to be ready and execute as well as you can as an offense, but it is a tough place to play, for sure."